April 2017 Meeting Minutes

Richmond Astronomical Society

811th Consecutive Meeting

April 11, 2017


Greetings – approximately 24 in attendance at the meeting.

Jim Browder called our meeting to order in the Eureka meeting room


Announcements / Share Table


Library Report: Virginia Eckert


Welcome Visitors:


Events and Individual Observing:

  • RAS members
  • James River State Park
  • school skywatches


The Governor of Virginia along with his family, staff, state agency administrators and probably local politicians will be visiting Staunton River State Park on April 16-17. The Governor and his staff have been supportive of astronomy programs and have asked to participate in observing sessions while at the park. Adam Layman, the park manager, has asked for volunteer astronomers to help. This is a good opportunity to show state agency administrators and local and state government leaders the value of astronomy programs. The park recognizes that this is a lot to ask of folks, but is very appreciative of whatever support we can provide. Here is what the park needs — note that scheduled times may shift:

  • Sunday, April 16 — An observing session for the Governor, his family and the DCR administration. This will be a small event, but will provide an excellent opportunity to communicate to decision-makers the value of astronomy activities and dark sky preservation efforts. Volunteer astronomers are welcome to have dinner with the group at 6:00 pm with dedication of a dark sky observing area at 7:00 pm followed by an observing session.
  • Monday, April 17 — Dinner with a larger group with welcome / introductions at 5:00 pm, dinner from 5:30-6:30 PM, and a recognition ceremony from 6:30-7:30 PM. Although the Governor is expected to leave before dusk, we do expect that them will be a group (possibly even a large group) on Monday evening that will be interested in observing.

Please let us know if you can help at president@richastro.org. If you want camping space, also please let us know. Dress for the dinner events is business casual, nothing fancy.


Science Museum Skywatch, April 21, 6:30 PM: Skywatch at the Museum in conjunction with the Museum’s Science After Dark activity. Please join us and bring a telescope if you can. Feel free to set up earlier than 6:30 since we typically have visitors prior to start time.


Cub Scout Skywatch, April 24, Dinwiddie, 6:30 PM: Please contact Terry Barker at a meeting or send a message to president@.richastro.org if you can help.


Delmarva Stargaze XXII, April 27-30, Trap Pond State Park, near Laurel, Delaware: Hosted by the Delmarva Stargazers. Information at http://www.delmarvastargazers.org.


Astronomy Day at the Science Museum, April 29: RAS and the Science Museum of Virginia will celebrate National Astronomy day with a number of activities and observing opportunities. Please join us at the Museum on April 29! If you can volunteer, please send a message to president@richastro.org.


Star Party Weekend, May 6-7, Stratford Hall, VA: The Rappahannock Astronomy Club is partnering with Stratford Hall to host a Star Party Weekend with lectures and observing on the grounds. More information at http://www.stratfordhall.org/events/star-party-weekend-at-strattord/


East Coast Star Party, Coinjock, NC, May 18-20: Fun and casual observing in a dark North Carolina sky with the friendliest astronomers anywhere. The location is the Hampton Lodge Campground which offers casual stargazing in a coastal environment. Pre-registration is not required. Fees are $20 for star party registration, $20 per night camping fee (additional fee for RN sites). Contact Kent Blackwell for information at kenttäexis.net.


Green Bank Star Quest, Green Bank Observatory, WV, July 19-22: The quest continues! More at http://www.greenbankstarquest.org/


The Great American Solar Eclipse, August 21: As seen from Richmond, the eclipse will be partial starting at 11:46AM, visible through 5:04 PM, peaking at 2:21 PM. Elsewhere in the US, this eclipse will be total and is not to be missed! More information at these links:





Staunton River Star Party – Fall Installment, October 16-22, Staunton River State Park: For those that have not attended, this is an excellent star party with dark skies, convenient amenities and a state park staff that is very welcoming to astronomers and second to none in their dedication to making this a successful event. More info is at http://www.chaosastro.com/starparty/


NASA Langley Open House, Hampton, Virginia, October 21: Outstanding opportunity to tour NASA Langley Research Center. More information at http://www.nasa.gov/langley/education/visit

Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies Annual Conference, October 21: Information to be posted as it becomes available. This year’s gathering will be hosted by the Back Bay Amateur Astronomers.


Stargazing Sessions at Staunton River State Park: Members of the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society (CHAOS) in conjunction with Staunton River State Park are hosting public observing sessions with observing for the volunteer astronomers after the public portion. Dates for these events are: May 19, June 23, July 21, August 18, October21 (Staunton River Star Party) and September 22. Contact the park directly regarding weather cancellations at 434-572-4623 or StauntonRiver@dcr.virginia.gov


Stargazing at Shenandoah National Park: Shenandoah National Park is presenting a series of stargazing events and presentations at Big Meadows Area in the Park. Events are cancelled if there is inclement weather. Call 540-999-2222 the day of the event to check on its status.

DATE                           TIME

Fri, May26                     8:30 PM

Fri, June23                     9:00 PM

Fri, July 21                     8:30 PM

Sat, Aug 12 (Perseid Meteor Shower) 8:00 PM

Fri, Sept22                     7:00 PM

Fri, Oct20                      6:00 PM


Astro-imaging Tips: “Which telescope is best?” Madhup Rathi




Presentation: RAS Award Winners at the 2017 Richmond Metro STEM Fair:

  • Naren Kasinath, “Efficiency of C-Type Asteroids as a Means of Shielding Against Ionizing Radiation During Interplanetary Travel”
  • Medha Majety, ‘The Effect of Varying Surface Gravity on the Number of In-falling Virtual Particle Pairs Near the Vicinity of the Event Horizon into a Singularity”
  • Aislinn Craig, “The Effect of the Use of a USC LPR Filter on the Visibility of Objects in Space”